Here it is.  When receiving that untrue attack on Barack Obama OR John McCain, hit “reply all” and paste this response.  Hopefully you won’t need to use this often.

We need to be aware that there are people trying to use us to spread misinformation and do their dirty work for them.  We live in a democracy and there are powerful interests who fear the idea of letting us choose our own leaders.  Some have exploited the flaws in our democracy to get their hands on the levers of power and they don’t want to let go.  One of their standard tactics is to introduce an anonymous message filled with lies and distortions, trusting that we will blindly distribute it to all our friends.  This is terribly destructive, not only to democracy, but to our personal lives because the tactic exploits the trust we share with those who are closest to us.

Barack Obama has devoted his life to public service.  He has worked tirelessly for years to help people, like the factory workers in South Chicago who lost their jobs when work was shipped overseas (work he did through a Christian church).  Whatever your political views, I’m sure you’ll agree that fighting for American workers is something we can all respect.

I am happy to share with you a thoughtful speech by Obama that tells how his Christian faith has shaped his political beliefs. Weigh his lifetime of service motivated by his belief in Jesus Christ against the anonymous author spreading falsehoods through email.  We need to call out the act of deception for what it is – an attempt to assassinate the character of a good man.

A question I urge you to ask yourself is why the exploiters of power who started this lie don’t have the integrity to be honest with the American people?  The vast majority of Americans know that the economy is not working and the country is going in the wrong direction.  But a few are profiting like never before at our expense and they are afraid of policies that would respect and value the efforts of hard-working Americans.  Rather than challenge such policies head on, they prefer to use us to spread their propaganda.

Smears like the one in that email are meant to draw our attention to some moral failing in our leaders.  The real moral failing is in the people who concocted this smear in the first place and thought so little of us when they sought to hijack the democratic process that makes America great.

There is more I could say about attacks on a person’s faith, such as the impossibility of responding to claims by an anonymous attacker that you, or a member of your family, secretly believe something other than the faith that you profess and demonstrate.  But I think it is more important to point out the level of vigilance we need to practice if we want to preserve our democratic traditions.  This includes a recognition of the motives held by those who would so cavalierly distort our political process to serve their selfish ends.

We’re going to see more smears by these powerful elites who profit while most Americans suffer.  I hope I can count on you to help alert others when they use these tactics to try to divide us in the days ahead.

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